College Teaching


Fall Semester, Wednesdays 4:00-6:00 pm



Please contact Sam Spiegel with questions about the course.

SYGN600 is designed for graduate students considering a career in academia and for interested CSM faculty or staff who want to enhance their teaching. Through the course we will focus on:

  • Building awareness and application of principles of learning and teaching in a college setting.
  • Enhancing your approaches to engineering learning experiences (designing and assessing instruction).
  • Articulating your personal philosophy regarding teaching and learning.
  • Starting you down the path to becoming a professional educator in higher education.

Teaching is an active process of guiding and aiding a student as he or she learns, thus facilitating learning.  When thinking about teaching it is important to consider more than just what the teacher is saying or doing, rather, the whole learning experience should be considered.  Joseph Schwab suggested four points of view when studying teaching and learning: the milieu (the school, the community, and the society); the content (the concepts); the teacher (you and how you teach); and the student (how a student learns and what motivates him/her to learn). We will focus on the teacher (you) and the learner in this course, but will reference and consider varying milieu and a few specific content applications.

This course will help you get started in thinking about the important issues and approaches to teaching in higher education. We will also work on foundational skills to help you further your abilities and understandings to be more effective in teaching. After all, one course could not address enough learning goals to tackle all that are necessary to be a highly effective teacher.

As you engage in the course consider what teachers should provide to students including, but certainly not limited to:

  1. guidance and encouragement,
  2. a sense of excitement and enthusiasm toward the subject or discipline,
  3. planned sequenced instruction that allows the student to make sense of the content and see how one concept connects to the other,
  4. opportunities to apprentice in the practices of the discipline,
  5. feedback to the student on his/her progress, and
  6. additional instruction and experiences based on evaluation of the student’s progress.

We will think about these as engineering learning opportunities.

Teaching as a profession requires many other additional tasks and responsibilities such as record keeping, addressing local and national policies, providing a safe environment, reporting progress, and so forth.  A teacher should also consider the long range and life-long learning goals for the learner, guiding the learning experiences to be part of a larger sequence.

Learning Outcomes:

At the completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. recognize dominant theories of learning such as behaviorism, conditioning, social learning theory, constructivism, cognitivism, connectivism, cognitive development theory, and zone of proximal development;
  2. identify at least five effective pedagogical practices and describe when they should be used;
  3. apply the process of Engineering Learning when designing an in-person module and an online learning module;
  4. articulate in writing your personal theory about teaching and learning;
  5. observe, discuss, and provide feedback to a colleague regarding a teaching and learning experience (e.g., lesson or class);
  6. receive feedback on and consider how to enhance a teaching moment (e.g., activity, lesson, class);
  7. describe how to access the literature and existing knowledge about teaching and learning issues, in a discipline or more broadly; and
  8. research a problem of practice related to teaching, synthesize the findings, and develop a plan to try them in their own teaching practices.

Required Text:

Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide, by Felder, RM & Brent, R. March 2016, Jossey-Bass: Wiley.  ISBN: 978-1-118-92581-2
Available for purchase at the CSM Bookstore.

Recommended Resources:

These are resources you might want to borrow or purchase. You should at least become familiar with these and the key ideas presented in each.

Ambrose, S.A.; Bridges, M.W.; DiPietro, M.; Lovett, M.C.; & Norman, M.K. 2010. How Learning Works: 7 Research-based principles for smart teaching. Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 978-0-470-48410-4

Hattie, J. 2009. Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses related to achievement. Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-47618-8

A few books that have useful insights into productive classroom practices include:

Angelo, T.A. & Cross, K.P.  1993. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A handbook for college teachers. Second Edition. Jossey-Bass.  ISBN: 1-55542-500-3

Biggs, J. & Tang, C. 2011. Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Fourth Edition. McGraw-Hill.  ISBN: 978-0-33-524275-7

Sousa, D.A. & Tomlinson, C.A. 2011. Differentiation and the Brain: How neuroscience supports the learner-friendly classroom. Solution Tree Press.  ISBN: 978-1-935249-59-7

Wiggins, G & McTighe, J. 2005. Understanding by Design. ASCD. ISBN: 1-4166-0224-0

Bransford, JD; Brown, AL; & Cockling, RR, editors. 2000. How People Learn. Brain, mind, experience and school. National Academy of Sciences: National Research Council: National Academy Press. ISBN 0-309-07036-8


Please contact Sam Spiegel with questions about the course.